Malayalam film with 200 deaf actors promotes inclusion in cinema
‘Mounaksharangal’ is a Malayalam movie directed by Devadas Kallurutty. The movie stars over 200 deaf people from across Kerala. This is the first time in India. ‘Mounaksharangal’ was released last year. But makers claim that many theatre owners and a section of the audience are now demanding for the movie to be released back in theatres.
Cinema is one of the most powerful mediums in today’s world. Movies can change the way people think to a large extent. Realizing the immense potential that this medium carries, Malayalam film-maker Devadas Kallurutty made the movie ‘Mounaksharangal’ with over 200 deaf people in it as actors. The movie that has a socially relevant theme released in theatres across Kerala last year. Makers claim that many theatre owners and a section of the Malayali audience are demanding for the movie to be released back across the state.
Opening doors of opportunities for deaf actors
Most of the actors in ‘Mounaksharangal’ are deaf children. The actors lip synced according to the dialogues that were provided to them. Dubbing artists later recorded them at a studio. The movie team had also hired sign language interpreters to explain the director’s instructions to actors.
Lead characters were played by VS Arif and KM Sreelakshmi. Devadas has previously directed documentaries. During one of his shoots, he noticed a group of deaf people eagerly looking at the movie set. But the film crew asked them to leave. They were clearly disheartened.
That was when I decided I’am going to make a movie for the deaf community. I wrote that in paper and showed it to them. They were all thrilled. I also realized that there are many aspiring deaf actors. But they clearly do not have opportunities to come forward – Devadas Kallurutty.
“In my next movie, I’am casting more disabled people and giving them chances to follow their passion”, says Devadas.
A movie with only deaf actors is a first time in India. Through ‘Mounaksharangal’, makers hope that the message of need for inclusion in cinema reaches far and wide.
Makers of ‘Mounaksharangal’ claim that the movie successfully ran in theatres across Kerala for over 40 days. The maximum number of shows were at a theatre in Mukkam at Kozhikode where most of the shows ran houseful.
The responses of parents, relatives and friends of deaf people was heart-warming. “Some of the parents came and told me that if their child could speak, their voices would have been like what they heard on-screen”, says Devadas.
Inclusion in true sense
Baveesh, associate director of ‘Mounaksharangal’, is a wheelchair user. This youngster, who aspired to be an actor, met with an accident due to which he started using a wheelchair. Baveesh is one of the first wheelchair technical crew members in Indian cinema.
“I always dreamt of acting. In fact, I was preparing for it when fate had other plans for me. I met with an accident after which I started using a wheelchair. It is great to see deaf children and their families so thrilled. Till date, no directors or producers have cast deaf actors because they do not want to take the risk involved. We never thought the younger generation would accept ‘Mounaksharangal’. But they are the ones who welcomed the movie with open arms”, says Baveesh.
‘Mounaksharangal’ was produced by Ramesh Mavoor. The camera was wielded by Rajeev Koothukam. There are over four songs in the movie which has been sung by renowned Malayalam singers. Music for ‘Mounaksharangal’ was tuned by Salam Veeroli.